Confession Paper: A Comparison and Contrast Between the 1833 Confession of Faith and the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message

Liberty Theological Seminary

 

 

Confession Paper

A Comparison And Contrast Between

The 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith

And

The 1925 Baptist Faith and Message

 

A Paper

Submitted to Dr. A. J. Smith

In Partial Fulfillment

Of the Requirements for the Course in

History of the Baptist

CHHI 694

By

Anthony D. Padgett

April 10, 2010

 

 

Contents

THESIS STATEMENT. 1

INTRODUCTION.. 1

The 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith. 1

The 1925 Baptist Faith and Message. 2

CONCLUSION.. 5

BIBLIOGRAPHY.. 7

 

 

 

THESIS STATEMENT

Was the 1925, Baptist Faith and Message based largely on the 1833, New Hampshire Confession?

INTRODUCTION

 

The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845; however no formal confession of faith was adopted until 1925. It is no secret that The Baptist Faith and Message of 1925 by the Southern Baptist Convention was modeled largely from the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833. The Baptist Faith and Message was then revised in 1963, 1998, and in 2000 respectively, but it is the 1998 and 2000 revisions that have brought about the most controversy.  For this paper we will only look at the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833 and that of The Baptist Faith and Message of 1925. The Baptist Faith and Message of 1963, 1998, or 2000 will not be discussed in this study.

The 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith

 

In June of 1830, the New Hampshire state convention appointed a committee with the sole purpose of developing a statement of faith that all of the churches in New Hampshire could agree on and adopt. There was much concern at the time with the movement of what is now referred to as “Free Baptists.” The theological ideas of the Calvinistic Baptist churches in New Hampshire had significantly changed with the “Free Will Baptist” movement. It was the intent of the New Hampshire Baptist Convention to restate their Calvinistic views, and to put those into writing as a “Declaration of Faith and Practice” in a moderate way.[1]

A committee was chosen of N. W. Williams, William Taylor and I. Person to draw up the draft to be presented to the Convention.  After the draft was not completed within the year, I. Person was selected alone to finish the Confession and present it to the Convention.  On June 26, 1832 Person submitted the draft to the Convention and it was then submitted to a committee of Baron Stow, John Newton Brown, Jonathan Going, and Person himself for some changes. The committee then recommended to the Convention that it be adopted; however the Convention referred it “to the disposal of the Board” and it was never discussed again. At a later time The Board referred the articles to Brown and Stow for some further revisions. A final copy was presented to the Board on January 15, 1833 and was eventually approved after some minor rewording.[2]

J. Newton Brown, who twenty years later in 1853 as the editorial secretary of the American Baptist Publication Society, revised the Confession and published it in The Baptist Church Manual, if not The New Hampshire Confession might have never been heard outside of New Hampshire again. In this revision he added two new articles one on “Repentance and Faith” and the other on “Sanctification.” With these revisions added to the original sixteen, it made the Confession one of the most used declarations in the Baptist Faith. Several different groups in the twentieth century began using the Confession with some differences in interpretation and understanding. In 1925 the Southern Baptist Convention began looking at the Confession and began using it as a model for their 1925 Baptist Faith and Message.[3]

The 1925 Baptist Faith and Message

 

In 1919 with The War just concluding, it was thought that messengers should be sent out to restore communication and send “greetings” with other Baptists across the nation. It was J. F. Love from Virginia who offered the resolution that was adopted, that messengers are appointed and be sent out. These greetings where prepared in large part by E. Y. Mullins, which were written down in the form of a statement of faith. The statement was not intended to be a complete doctrine and was not to be considered an official declaration.[4]

By 1923 a new issue was brought to the attention of the Convention, the increasingly popular teaching of evolutionary theory and the teaching of evolution in schools. With increasing conflict over the issue of evolution, it was recommended that a committee be appointed to issue another statement of faith. With the recommendation passed and a committee chosen, they began to look at the 1919 Statement of Principles or “greetings,” and the New Hampshire Confession was used to serve as the model of the new document. This committee added ten new sections concerning the return of the Lord, resurrection, evangelism and missions, social service, religious liberty, peace and war, education, co-operation, stewardship, and the Kingdom of God.

In using the New Hampshire Confession the committee deleted Articles 12 and 16, that of Harmony of the Law and the Gospel, and Civil Government. They then considerably reworded Articles 7, 9, 18 and the preamble. The preamble of the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message was wrote to insure that the statement was not intended to be a statement of belief, nor was it to be used to enforce traditional values or beliefs. The writers wanted to insure that the preamble statement was merely a confession or affirmation of what most messengers at that annual meeting understood to be the general beliefs of Baptists.

Article 7 of The New Hampshire Confession called for regeneration or born again, this consisted of giving a holy disposition to the mind. But the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message called for a new birth and change of heart. Article 7 in the Baptist Faith and Confession clearly calls for immersion of the believer in water to symbolize the believer’s faith, which was not the case in the New Hampshire Confession of Faith. This shows that the Convention of 1925 wanted to insure that immersion, not sprinkling or any other form was the given way for a Christian baptism. Also the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message added the Lord’s Supper into Article 7 and listed it as a “symbolic act of obedience” in remembering the death of the Redeemer.

Article 9 of the New Hampshire Confession is Article 5 in the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message. Both are on God’s purpose of grace, and the first notable difference is that “graciously” is taken out of the first sentence in the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message. Next the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message continue to say that “all true believers endure to the end.” and that “Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end.”[5] The 1925 Baptist Faith and Message clearly wanted to address key doctrine issues in this Article that pertained to being saved. The Article states that even though we have sinned and will sin again we are not left by God and through his Spirit we will grieve for him and will find comfort through faith unto salvation. It would seem here that the committee felt the need to be addressing the issue of “once saved always saved” and to adequately declare the beliefs of the Southern Baptist Convention for years to come on this issue.[6]

Article 18 of the New Hampshire Confession is about the “World to come.” It talks about the approaching end and those on the last day our Christ will come down from heaven and will raise the dead, and that the wicked will be punished, and the righteous will see heaven.[7] Then we have Article 18 in the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message which we see the title is that of “Religious Liberty.”  The 1925 Convention was clearly showing the separation of church and state. This Article explains that everyone no matter what denomination should have the right to pursue their religion free from state involvement. The church should be free to form opinions in the “sphere of religion” without any outside interference from the government.[8]

Though I could not find any reason in my study on why they specifically put Article 18 and worded it as “Religious Liberty.” I can only assume they learned from past history and the impact that the state had on the church. However, they also were looking to the future for religious freedom without persecution. I think Herschel H. Hobbs former president of the Southern Baptist Convention stated it best “The Baptist Faith and Message” of the Southern Baptists is based upon the competency of the soul in religion. Those who drew up the original statement in 1924-1925 were careful to safeguard the individual conscience.”[9]

CONCLUSION

 

The 1925 Baptist Faith and Message Confession, was drafted to address the ever changing times of the day. World War I had just finished in 1919 and communication between all Baptists had been strained. A focus on restoring that communication came in the form of “greetings” by E. Y. Mullins. Then with the increased controversy of evolution being taught in schools and which side the body of belief should be on, a decision was made to form a committee to look at another Baptist faith and Message. When a decision was made to from a Baptist Faith and Message committee, they looked at the 1833 New Hampshire Confession as the model and basis for guidance.  This committee had new challenges to address that were not present in 1833, so they decided to add the ten additional articles and reword several others to fit the more modern time.[10]

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hobbs, Herschel H.  The Baptist Faith and Message. Nashville, TN: Convention Press, 1985.

Lumpkin, William L.  Baptist Confessions of Faith. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969.

Southern Baptist Convention Website. http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp (accessed April 6, 2010).


[1]. William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969), 360.

[2]. William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969), 360.

[3]. Ibid. 360-361.

[4]. William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969), 390.

[5]. Southern Baptist Convention Website, http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp (accessed April 6, 2010).

[6]. William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969), 360.

[7]. Ibid, 360.

[8]. Southern Baptist Convention Website, http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp (accessed April 6, 2010).

[9]. Herschel Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message (Nashville, TN: Convention Press, 1985), 12.

[10]. William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969), 390.

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